What Do Ants Eat?

The General Ant Diet

There are ants everywhere in Dallas! You can find them crawling up tree trunks, raiding the picnic basket, and building their anthills on the side of the road. It’s hard not to notice these tiny creatures, but what do they eat? As someone interested in the natural world, you may have wondered what ants eat.

Learn more about this incredible creatures and what ants eat in this blog post. 

Surprisingly, ants eat a variety of different things. Ants have different dietary preferences based on their species. While most ants are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods such as insects, nectar, seeds, and fruits, some species have specialized diets.

Ants Species and Their Food Preference

There are 12,000 known species of ants in the world, each with unique characteristics and behaviors. One of the most important aspects of an ant colony's survival is their food preference.  

Carpenter Ants

The diet of a black carpenter ant is slightly different than those of little black ants, red ants, and most other ant species. They can feed on anything sugary, however, unlike termites, they cannot digest cellulose (a significant component in the cell walls of plants), as their digestive enzymes are unable to break down long-chain carbohydrates such as those found in wood and leaves. So if you ever see carpenter ants in your home, know that they are not eating the walls of your house but instead, they are gnawing through the wood so that they can haul it away to build tunnels for their colony. 

Carpenter ants also like to eat honeydew. They get the sweet substance by tending aphids (aphids are sap-sucking insects). The ants protect these tiny insects, and in return, their “herds” produce honeydew for the ants. Since carpenter ants primarily feed on sugary substances, they cannot survive without aphids.

Driver Ants

Some kinds of ants eat other insects. For example, one species of ants, called “driver ants”, are known for their swarm hunting technique. When these ants attack, they communicate with each other using pheromones (naturally produced chemicals) and form a massive ball with their bodies. Then this army marches towards the victim and eats it alive!

Leaf-Cutter Ant

Another species of ants in Dallas is the Leaf-cutter ants. They feed on nectars and some species eat a very unusual food – fungi! The leaf-cutter ant doesn’t actually eat the leaves they are carrying. Instead, they carry them back to their nest where they feed them to a particular type of fungus that they are cultivating in their nests. They feed the fungus with bits of leaves and fruit that they bring from outside the nest. Without ants, the fungus would die. 

How do Ants Find and Eat Food?

When it comes to finding food, ants are some of the most efficient animals on the planet. They can travel long distances and find food in a short amount of time. So how do they do it?

One way that ants find food is by following scents. They can sense smells from a long distance away, and they can follow them to the source. This is why you’ll often see ants walking along the edge of your sidewalk – they’re following the scent their next meal.

Another way that ants find food is by looking for patterns. They can see things that we can’t, like tiny cracks in the pavement or differences in texture — they use these patterns to find food. For instance, they might notice a tiny crack in your sidewalk that they can follow to a food source.

Most importantly, ants find food by working together. Ants communicate using chemical signals known as pheromones. They share information and keep track of each other’s locations while they’re searching for food. For example, an ant leaving the nest will leave a trail behind, in the form of its scent, as it finds food. If the ant finds more food, it will carry the food back to the nest and by doing so, it will leave another trail. This is why you will see ants in your kitchen walking in a straight line, they are following a trail to a food source. These trails let other ants know where to find food and lead them directly there.

Ants also communicate with one another in a few different ways. For example, they can produce sounds by touching their antennae together or banging against an object in the nest, which is how some ants create a hissing sound. Ants can also “talk” to one another by touching each other’s mouthparts. For example, they could say things like, “I found food,” or “get out of the way!”

Ants communicate with their queen as well – they carry her scent from place to place and spread it throughout the colony. This lets the other ants know where she is and how to get in touch with her. 

What Attracts Ants to Your House Besides Food?

Several things can attract ants to your house. One of the most common reasons is that they are looking for food. Ants are also attracted to houses because of the moisture and shelter. You’ll often find ants in your bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere there is a leaky pipe because of the water it provides. Additionally, like most pests such as the cockroach, they may have chosen those locations because the appliances give off warmth and shelter.  

In addition to food, ants are also looking for water. They are drawn to water, but they do not drink it. Instead, they bring the water back to their nests, where other colony members can use it.

Ants are not searching for water in the same way that humans or pets drink it. Therefore, any moisture left by sinks, leaking pipes, or your pet’s water dish will be used for other purposes in the ant colony. 

While it is true that ants will collect water in their nests, most ants do not harm your home in the process. They may choose to enter your home because it provides them with shelter and warmth. However, most of the time, their purpose is strictly related to survival. They are only looking for a safe place to maintain their queen, eggs, and food supply, and knowing that information still doesn’t make having ants in your home any more desirable.  So if you do find a colony of ants crawling up your bathroom wall then the fastest and safest way to rid your home is to call a trusted local pest control company like Forterra. 

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